Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Step Outside Yourself

Last weekend my family was invited to visit a farm in rural Nebraska.

People often think that since I live in Omaha, my whole neighborhood is infested with cows and chickens, but not so. My town is like any other suburb in the U.S. Given that I've spent most of my adult life in New York City, farm land is as alien to me as, well, Antarctica.

This was the real deal. There were no cute scarecrows welcoming us or perfect bushels of apples on display. It smelled like cows and manure. There were cats everywhere. I was surrounded by a sea of gold corn stalks for miles and perpetually peppered with dust and flies.

Here I am, out standing in a field:



A handful of gold:



And my daughter, hubbie, and friend in crammed into a "combine"--a $600K machine that harvests, threshes, and removes the kernel from the cob all at once.

We learned about how a hailstorm can ruin millions of dollars worth of crops in an hour. I know more about cow insemination I'll ever need to know (nine year old cryo-sperm still works!). I'll always remember that Holstein cows are the Michael Jordans of the cow world.

I learned what it really takes to be a farmer. You need to know economics, mathematics, weather, chemistry, mechanics, politics, genetics, biology, veterinary medicine, microbiology...

And I thought residency was hard.

I can't guarantee I'll be writing about a farmer in my next book, but glimpsing a life I hadn't remotely experienced was awe-inspiring, and a great education.

And...I do think I became a better writer that day somehow.

When was the last time you stepped outside of your life and saw something that broadened your world view?

52 comments:

Liza said...

I haven't stepped out in too long. I actually thought that this morning before reading your post. It's time.

Rayna M. Iyer said...

That machine is HUGE!!!!

Lloyd said...

I really enjoyed reading the posts on your blog. I would like to invite you to come on over to my blog and check it out. God bless, Lloyd

Maria Zannini said...

I had to laugh when I read this because stepping outside my life is usually what leads me into a new way of life.

That's how I ended up rock climbing, buying a ranch, and becoming a writer.

storyqueen said...

The Michael Jordans of the cow world is a great line!

Great pictures.

Rachna Chhabria said...

I haven't stepped outside my life for ages. I am sure this experience must have been tucked away into one of the recesses of your mind, in case one of your future characters is a farmer.

Carol Kilgore said...

What a great experience for all of you. I know you had a wonderful time. I need to step outside my life again. It's been a few months, so I'm overdue.

Kelly said...

My hubby's cousins' husband is a corn farmer. It's crazy how weather affects a farmer's crops and therefore his earnings for a year. I think I'd find it hard to rely on something that I can't control!!
What's funny, when I visited NYC this summer, that's when I felt totally out of my element! I'm not a rural country girl, but definitely a girl of small town suburbia!

LTM said...

you are fer sure outstanding in your field... OK. Had to...

But these are amazing pix! I owuld love to go there~ Thx~ :o) <3

Bathwater said...

I'm glad I didn't have to make the "outstanding" comment LTM made it for me. I farming has become a lot more complicated, I'd leave it to the corporations.

Melissa Sarno said...

Wow! That is really exciting. I've always wanted to see the workings of a farm. I think it's time for me to step out of the comfort zone for a little bit, but I'm not sure where that means I should go! :-)

JEM said...

Does that mean that Holsteins get more air than any other cow and can dunk on the Jersey cows?

Bossy Betty said...

This farmer's daughter thanks you for this post!

Matthew Rush said...

Wow. This is so cool, even if really flat. I used to step outside the normal zone all the time, but now it's been a while ...

Linda Kage said...

It also takes a LOT of good luck, or maybe just the Hand of God, to be a good farmer too. I grew up a farm (so I know that cow smell oh so well), and my parents worried if it didn't rain enough, if it reained too much, if it rained at the wrong time. The weather is a very big factor in their lives. Too cold a winter; are the cattle going to make it?

No way could I make it as a farmer. I'm too lazy, too soft, and not gutsy enough.

It was nice to see a city-dweller's outlook on farm life. Thank you so much for sharing.

Indigo said...

I absolutely loved this post. I jump on any and every opportunity, to step outside of my zone. Life is to be experienced and lived. The world is indeed our oyster. (Hugs)Indigo

Munk said...

Awesome.

Laura Eno said...

Your last line is essential advice, not only to writing but to living a full life as well. Excellent post!

Lisa Gail Green said...

Wow, now that's getting out there and experiencing new things.

Holly Ruggiero said...

That's pretty cool. All the cut crop stuff would send me straight to the antihistamines, but I’d still enjoy myself.

Connie said...

A lot of my relatives are/used to be dairy farmers. Holsteins rule.

Terri Tiffany said...

It sounds like it was a great day-- I love farms!
The last time? It's been awhile I think, maybe trying different churches here have been interesting for sure.

Abby Minard said...

I live in Missouri so people always thing the same thing about farms and cows and chickens. Farming is just crazy, and definitely takes a special person to do it.

Krispy said...

Looks like you had a lot of fun. I love that pic of you in the field. This is a good reminder to go out and DO STUFF too. It not only makes us better people, it helps with the writing too. :)

Emy Shin said...

Oh wow. That sounds amazing and like a lot of fun! I don't think I have stepped outside my life for a long time, and this is a great reminder that I should, because things I'll learn and experience will definitely be wonderful.

Colene Murphy said...

Wow! That looks like a fun adventure! Neat to see how other people live

lbdiamond said...

Wow, neat trip! I'd have to say traveling to different countries always changes my world view. ;)

Karen Lange said...

Thanks for the pictures! I would change one caption, though. I think you are "outstanding in your field."

Happy Wednesday,
Karen:)

Robert Guthrie said...

Sounds like you've been with some of my in-laws. Sobering, amazing, world-opening the first time we visited. A town of 200 people? 1000 acres? For real?

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

I could go visit a local pig farm, but somehow I don't think it'll be nearly as inspiring.

Crimey said...

I love farmland. I grow up on it. Those pictures are making me homesick. :)

Melissa said...

Wow! What a cool experience.

My extended family all lives in the prairies and quite a few of them farm, I loved running around at the farms when I was younger. It's so different from the suburbs!

Candyland said...

They are incredibly hard workers. I've always liked the idea of having a farm but I'm way too lazy.

Lola Sharp said...

I agree, every new experience makes us a better writer. Somehow, some way, it just does.

You look so cute and tiny out in that big field.

And, I kinda got a visual of a Holstein swishing the ball from the half-court. ;)

Love,
Lola

Lynda Young said...

I need to step out a bit more and experience more life. I've got my head down in my writing or a book too many hours a day! I love the photos. It looks like you had a brilliant, eye-opening time.

Shannon said...

Sounds like you had a great day! It's been far too long since I've stepped outside of my world. Great suggestion to do it again (soon!)

Jai Joshi said...

Sounds like you had a fantastic experience, Lydia.

One of the reasons I love traveling so much is that it gives me a different perspective on other lifestyles and cultures. I get an idea of what other people have to cope with and learn (as well as not learn which is just as important). It's always educational.

Jai

Julie Musil said...

I love the picture of you among the harvest. How cool! It's terrible that I buy stuff at the market and don't give any thought as to how it got there. From the farmer, to the trucker, etc.

Theresa Milstein said...

What an experience. I've never been to more than a small farm or apple orchard. You in the field is a great picture. You should put it somewhere on your blog.

If you get a chance tomorrow, please stop by my blog. I'm hosting a Halloween Haunting!

Clarissa Draper said...

Getting out and seeing the world does make us better writers and I try to do it once and awhile. It's hard because I'm used to my life and my routine. I'm a city girl and this winter I have to go to the country. I'll see how I do.
CD

WritingNut said...

Very cool! I agree - I think we all need to step out of our comfort zone every now and again and experience the world :)

It's always hard for me to do this... I'm a creature of habit, but I try!

Jackee said...

You may not be a farmer, but you are "outstanding" in your field! Ha, ha! (Okay, that was a bad pun, but I do try. What did you expect, posting that first picture and all??) :o)

I have about half a dozen lives wanting to be lived in my one little body, so yeah--I do try lots of things and try to learn a broad range of skills. Currently my interests (besides writing) are Tai chi, mosaic art, and digital scrapbooking. And I volunteer. A lot. Not because I'm cool like that, but because it gets me out of the house. LOL!

The Red Angel said...

Thanks so much for sharing this with us! :) Great photos. Every time I go traveling somewhere, my eyes widen and my mind immediately opens up to a new perspective, way of life, and unique types of experiences.

~TRA

http://xtheredangelx.blogspot.com

jbchicoine said...

That looks like the fields around my house!
I really do need to get out a little more often, but I like the familiar...

Ishta Mercurio said...

So cool! I love the photo of the kernels of corn in your hand. And the Combine is HUGE! Wow.

It's been a while since I really stepped out into something completely different - although I do the little crazy things like drive two hours to meet a lady I've only "met" in an online conference, or go to an event where I don't know anybody except the host - fairly regularly. Embrace the crazy.

Andrea Mack said...

It's true that stepping out and doing something you've never done before can have a huge impact on your writing. Thanks for sharing your experience.

K.M. Weiland said...

I live in rural Nebraska (the western Panhandle), but thankfully I've been spared the cows and chickens. I owned horses for a few years, and they're far the superior "farm" animal! ;)

Lenny Lee! said...

hi miss lydia! that was a really cool trip for you. i didnt ever see a for real corn field. just the other night i had a dream i was standing in one that wasnt all cut yet and i got touching every part of it and got a lesson on how important every little part is for growing a real cob of corn. it was a pretty neat dream. i could like to go stand in a for real corn field.
...hugs from lenny

notesfromnadir said...

Lydia,

I see you're wearing short sleeves so enjoy the warmth before it seeps away.

You know you're in the Midwest when surrounded by miles & miles of cornfields. But I agree that it's loads of hard work & I respect what a farmer does & I also love corn.

Oh, I've stepped outta my life a lot lately! :)

Patti Lacy said...

LOVED these photos, which mirror the scenes ACROSS my STREET!!

Dog Laura and I actually jog through a swath of dirt cut between two corn fields.

You go, girl. Proud of you.
Patti

Haddock said...

Some things we learn hen we are close to mother earth

Vicki Rocho said...

I didn't realize you were in Omaha! We're practically neighbors...we just have a reallllllly big back yard between us since I'm on the Eastern half of Iowa. hahaha

Howdy neighbor!

 
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